Our cruise from Venice to Istanbul aboard Azamara Club Cruises was among our favorite itineraries. When we heard that Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises is heading back to Turkish ports it brought back great memories. We think our LGBTQ cruise enthusiasts should check out this colorful and exotic port.
MMOB TIP: Get a private guide in Istanbul. It’s a huge city with chaotic traffic, and we benefited greatly by hiring a guide.
For the first time since 2016 Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is back to ports in Turkey, planning 12 sailings with the Regent and Oceania brands, and even more sailings in 2020.
CEO Frank Del Rio said on a conference call: “When we talk about the Eastern Med, Turkey is the key destination which has been somewhat off limits to the industry for the last couple of years. So the fact is that the North American consumer who is the one booking most of these Eastern Mediterranean cruises, and seems to want to come back to the Eastern Med.”
LGBTQ travelers should be on their guard in Turkey due to the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey’s formerly western-leaning and secular state has been moving toward a more repressive stance.
We witnessed this first hand on an excursion to the fish market in Istanbul one morning. When we arrived our guide said the area had been demolished overnight to make way for development. Stunned local workers arrived to see their workplaces destroyed without warning.
Less adventurous travelers would certainly enjoy Kusadasi, Turkey, the port for the ruins of Ephesus, a fabulous site visited by the likes of Cleopatra and Marc Antony.
With all this in mind we’d jump at the chance to visit Turkey’s fabulous capital again. The same goes for her other ports, many filled with both ancient historical sites as well as beautiful natural attractions.
To book a cruise visiting Turkey and Istanbul contact MMOB travel expert Adam Martindale.